“Reality is an illusion,” is often considered to be the general sense of the widespread saying that the world is Maya. But I feel that the general sense is: “the reality is beyond all illusions.” It means if you find the Truth or truth finds you; you go beyond all illusions. It also means that ‘reality’ as it is perceived generally is an illusion. You may say that reality of the world is akin to the reality of a dream. While you’re dreaming–the dream seems to be real. Some people have asked whether their waking reality is the highest reality or the reality which they experience in the dream is the Truth. Just because dreams last for a smaller time compared to the waking reality you can’t say with certainty that this reality is the ground or ultimate reality.
There can be a reality to which this existence is merely a dream. There can be a reality to which that reality can also be a dream–so there could be a fractal like structure of infinite realities–all inside one ultimate reality. These realities all intersect each other and affect each other in a subtle way.
Hinduism has a special word for this illusion. They call it Maya. Maya is the measurement against the standard unit Self. To make it clear: suppose you have a meter scale and you are using it to measure the length of some object. Let’s assume that you use this meter scale to measure the length of your stick and you come up with the conclusion that your stick is three meters in length. Now what if the scale used had some error in it? What if your scale was inaccurate? What if your scale shows every length by adding a (.25) of a meter to it? Just because the standard used to measure the length is not accurate, anything which will be measured against this standard will not be accurate.
Similarly, our perceptions, our reality, our universes are, measurements against the standard of our perceptions of ourselves. My universe is the measurement against my own private perception of my Self.
It is so because, everything in my universe is projection of my own mind. If my mind is suspended somehow, in samadhi or swoon then my universe exists no more. My thoughts create my universe. My thoughts make my reality. Each and every thought of mine emanates from the primordial thought of me/mine. What if my knowledge of my own ‘self’ is not accurate? What if my knowledge of ‘self’ is not correct?
If I do not know about myself and everything else I know is dependent on my knowledge of myself, then, everything I know, must be, an illusion, it must be inaccurate. It will be inaccurate if my knowledge of self is inaccurate but if my knowledge of self is illusory, and lies in, some other order of reality, then, my knowledge of everything is illusory. This is why everything is Maya as per Mayavadis. Everything known is known because of the knowledge of the ‘self’ and the knowledge of the ‘self’ is in itself an illusion; therefore, everything known is illusion. Everything known is a projection of mind; as real, as the mind.
In devotional scriptures Maya is considered to be the illusory potency of the supreme personality of the Godhead. In Bhagavata Purana, Canto 11, lord Krishna says to Uddhava:
There’s neither bondage nor liberation for me. My Maya has two potencies–Avidya and Atmavidya. Avidya keeps you in bondage and Vidya is the path on which you walk to get liberated. But both of them are illusory potencies.
Let’s discuss this a bit. The bondage and liberation actually don’t exist for people bound by Tamas(inertia). They don’t have enough awareness to realize that they are actually in bondage–therefore need of liberation doesn’t exist at all. If you ask a monkey–are you suffering brother? It would show you its teeth and walk away. In order to solve a problem you’ve to first become aware of the problem. Humans and other animals who are bound by inertia don’t know that there is bondage.
Rajasik(energy) people are also not aware of bondage completely. Sometimes they wake up from their slumber momentarily but forces of Avidya immediately make them sleep again. They have a very distant glimpse of bondage lurking in the back of their psyche but they are not yet ready.
Sattvic(harmonious) people have a clear idea about their suffering. They are sensitive and strive for divine knowledge. Maya has started working as Atmavidya in them. They see the bondage and also see the path on which sages have walked and realized themselves. They strive for getting liberated from ego and suffering. Thus bondage and liberation exist for Sattvic people. But it doesn’t exist for those who are bound primarily by the Rajasik and Tamasik modes of Maya. They are beguiled by the Avidya.
Maya is not exactly something working to keep you under illusion. Avidya is the potency of Maya which works to keep you in bondage. When a person has started working to get liberated–this very same Maya starts helping him wake-up. It’s Atmavidya then. It’s the Kundalini–the mystic fire which helps a native walk on the path of self-realization.
But when you wake-up from the dream. When illusion has completely shattered and only the Self remains–then there is neither Avidya nor Atmavidya to be found. You are free and yet there’s no bondage or freedom. Because the time and space exist only inside manifestation. Beyond mind there’s no time or space–therefore even to say that I was in bondage is impossible because when there is no time there’s no conception of bondage either. Krishna says what every enlightened master says–that there’s no bondage or liberation. This is true for people bound by Tamasik and Rajasik modes of Maya and also true for liberated people.
The Truth is–whatever is cannot be separate from the Self, God, Reality or Truth. Maya is also God. It’s Self. Shiva and Shakti are one. The manifestation is not different from the seed and underlying cause of it. When this illusory potency is working in you to wake you up from your dream it’s felt like Kundalini. But once there’s completion of the process–only Self remains–there’s no Kundalini anymore. Those who are in deep sleep also don’t feel any Kundalini because they are bound by Avidya–they are insensitive. Those who have got liberated don’t feel Kundalini because there’s nothing else but Self. Kundalini has become the Self. Shakti has completely merged into Shiva. Only those who are sensitive and have started to work sincerely for waking up from their deep slumber feel that there’s some power helping them in cleansing their body and mind–this is felt as something external to their body and mind but it’s the innermost Self working in them–the very life and intelligence which is working inside every cell, every atom, every proton, electron, neutron and hubbason and behind the grand universal order is working in them to help them wake up from their sleep.
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